Thursday, February 16, 2006


On Anti-Americanism and Superpowers

Via a commenter at Jeff Goldstein's site (in reference to Jeff's "Iraq's WMD: What Would You Have Done?", itself well worth reading), we find this gem from The Futurist:
In any case, having a strong dislike for America, yet not having the integrity to be honest about one's true feelings, makes such a person easy to defeat through skillful debate.

There are many ways to do this...

...if someone you believe to be a genuine anti-American says they oppose the Iraq War because "there were no WMDs" or "Bush lied about WMDs", then you can merely ask :

"So if WMDs were found, would you support the war?"

They can either answer "no", to which you can say "So why do you obsess over WMDs if you still would have opposed it anyway? That appears rather phony on your part."

Or they can answer "yes", to which you can ask them "But Iran and North Korea are openly admitting to the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and are threatening to use them. By your logic, invading them is fully justified, is it not?"

Either way, they are trapped. This is so simple, yet very effective. In reality, they oppose any action by the US because they oppose the very ideals of the US. Yet, they are too ashamed to admit it, and so hide behind phony guises.
I suspect the answer, in the second case, would be something like "Yes, and Bush invaded Iraq, which was never a threat, and refuses to invade Iran or North Korea, which are a threat -- until I change my mind again, anyway -- which just proves again what a lying cowardly evil idiot Bush is."

Nonetheless, the tactic is interesting -- argue over principles, not facts! Arguing over facts is pointless as this stage, because the two sides don't even agree on what the facts are. (Is it or is it not true that, in 2002, the entire world believed that Saddam had WMD stockpiles? Yes, it is true, and it's easy to prove, if your memory doesn't go back that far; but you can still argue forever with someone who simply refuses to accept this basic point.)

That, by itself, is noteworthy. But the post goes further, in describing anti-Americanism as a superpower in itself.

This made little sense to me, until I thought about it a bit. After all, what do the anti-America idiots have to counter the juggernaut that is the United States? Then again, Stalin contemptuously asked, "How many divisions does the Pope have?" We smile condescendingly at Stalin now; true, the Pope had no troops, no air force, no navy... but was a force to be reckoned with nonetheless. And anti-Americanism has increasingly become a force to be taken seriously in the world.

More to the point, anti-American groups are joining forces... and we may well see more of that. Muslims all over the world are destroying property associated with America, even though the source of their rioting (the Danish cartoons) has nothing to do with America. Europeans are quietly distancing themselves from the militant Muslims they used to support, but we may yet see a change of heart again.

Just as Democrats rallied in 2004 around the idea of "anybody but Bush", we may yet see a significant portion of ther world rally around the idea of anti-Americanism -- whatever America is for, they'll be against it, whether it helps them or not. And we may yet see a world war fought over this.

Of course, the Democrats lost in 2004, in large part because "anybody but Bush" is a negative strategy against a positive one. An ideology needs to have more to offer than "the opposite of what the other guy says"... all the more so, in the case of an ideology that people will live and die for.

For all that people, from all walks of life and all parts of the world, have learned to love hating the United States, it's still the place that much of the world's people yearn to emulate, or to emigrate. As somebody or other once said, immigration is the sincerest form of flattery. And, as such, people fighting the very idea of America will be fighting against their own deep-seated emotional conflicts, as The Futurist's post suggests.

By all means, read the whole thing. It won't take you long.


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